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Open Access Research article

BCR and its mutants, the reciprocal t(9;22)-associated ABL/BCR fusion proteins, differentially regulate the cytoskeleton and cell motility

Xiaomin Zheng, Saskia Güller, Tim Beissert, Elena Puccetti and Martin Ruthardt*

Author Affiliations

Laboratory for Tumor Stem Cell Biology, Department of Hematology, J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2006, 6:262  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-262

Published: 7 November 2006

Abstract

Background

The reciprocal (9;22) translocation fuses the bcr (breakpoint cluster region) gene on chromosome 22 to the abl (Abelson-leukemia-virus) gene on chromosome 9. Depending on the breakpoint on chromosome 22 (the Philadelphia chromosome – Ph+) the derivative 9+ encodes either the p40(ABL/BCR) fusion transcript, detectable in about 65% patients suffering from chronic myeloid leukemia, or the p96(ABL/BCR) fusion transcript, detectable in 100% of Ph+ acute lymphatic leukemia patients. The ABL/BCRs are N-terminally truncated BCR mutants. The fact that BCR contains Rho-GEF and Rac-GAP functions strongly suggest an important role in cytoskeleton modeling by regulating the activity of Rho-like GTPases, such as Rho, Rac and cdc42. We, therefore, compared the function of the ABL/BCR proteins with that of wild-type BCR.

Methods

We investigated the effects of BCR and ABL/BCRs i.) on the activation status of Rho, Rac and cdc42 in GTPase-activation assays; ii.) on the actin cytoskeleton by direct immunofluorescence; and iii) on cell motility by studying migration into a three-dimensional stroma spheroid model, adhesion on an endothelial cell layer under shear stress in a flow chamber model, and chemotaxis and endothelial transmigration in a transwell model with an SDF-1α gradient.

Results

Here we show that both ABL/BCRs lost fundamental functional features of BCR regarding the regulation of small Rho-like GTPases with negative consequences on cell motility, in particular on the capacity to adhere to endothelial cells.

Conclusion

Our data presented here describe for the first time an analysis of the biological function of the reciprocal t(9;22) ABL/BCR fusion proteins in comparison to their physiological counterpart BCR.